The Avenidas Generations Lab will pioneer a new approach to reducing the digital divide between younger and older people. This lab will go beyond the computer training Avenidas pioneered over 20 years ago (and is now common at many senior centers). It will introduce seniors in Silicon Valley to the wide range of newer digital technologies – smart phones, tablets, wearables, e-readers, even 3D printers and robots – that could help them live healthier, richer, more independent lives.
Additionally, the Avenidas Generations Lab will provide a place where developers of new products for older adults can meet and get feedback from potential users. Being located in the heart of Silicon Valley (just a few blocks from Hewlett and Packard’s historic “garage”) puts Avenidas in an ideal position to forge connections between the high tech industry and a large and growing new audience of older users.
Our experience shows us that there is a strong interest in older consumers as researchers, product developers and investors respond to the world’s changing demographics. These designers seek meaningful engagement with older adults who are dedicated to aging in place – exactly the people who are the Avenidas community. The Avenidas Generations Lab can be a laboratory for testing ideas and products for older adults, and a clearinghouse for information about promising research and new products. It can be a place where entrepreneurship across one’s lifespan is promoted and advanced. The Generations Lab will enable older adults to:
- explore new technologies through talks and demos to increase awareness of new options;
- engage with tech through workshops and one-on-one training to acquire new skills; and
- shape new products by participating in focus groups or pilot testing. We fully expect the program to continue to evolve as technologies evolve.
In its first full year of operation (2016), the Avenidas Generations Lab has offered a free, intergenerational “Tech Faire” that offered hands-on demos of products such as Google Glass and a BEAM robot, along with a series of “Tech Talks.” It is estimated that over 800 to 1,000 people attended this event, which was also featured on KTVU Chanel 2. A second “Tech Talk” was held featuring an interview with the New York Times Technology Reporter John Markoff, and close to 300 people attended. Avenidas has also facilitated several research projects that introduced them to new technologies and their uses. For pictures and more info on the Tech Faire, click here.
We will continue to offer these activities such as the Tech Talks, Tech Faire, computer classes and workshops in the second year of operation, and we anticipate working with 15-20 companies or entrepreneurs to provide input into their product development process through interviews, focus groups or pilot testing. Thanks to the uniqueness of the Avenidas Generations Lab, we expect that it will catalyze greater awareness both locally and nationally of the potential value of tech applications that are tailored to older adults.